Team Indy explores the NAMES Quilt

By passmore on December 7, 2010 in AmeriCorps

On November 12th, Team Indianapolis traveled to Bloomington, IN to read names and help monitor the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.  This project allowed the team to explore and appreciate the quilt, a tribute to those affected by HIV/AIDS and the largest known piece of community folk art as of 2010.

The quilt was started in 1987 as a memorial to and celebration of the lives of early victims of the virus.  The pieces of the quilt are composed of 6’ x 3’ pieces of material decorated with anything from paint and embroidery to baby shoes and CD’s.  Currently, the quilt consists of 46,000 individual memorial panels and weighs about 54 tons.  The last time all of the pieces were displayed together was on the National Mall in 1996.  Today small collections of the quilt travel the country and are displayed at various locations.

Our visit was special because this was the largest collection of quilt pieces ever displayed in Indiana.  When we entered the hall at Indiana University housing these quilt pieces, they coated the walls and floor and hung from the ceiling.  While our teammates Ashely and Naomi read names of those honored by the quilt, we had the chance to admire some of these works of art.

Some of the pieces looked professionally done.  A piece for Freddie Mercury was made with crushed black velvet and extravagant silver detailing.  Others had a more homemade feel to them and often included personal messages from friends and family.  Regardless of  the content, the sheer size and emotion put into the display was enough to remind us all of what we are continually working for in our year of service.

The visitors at the IU display were clearly moved and fascinated by the quilt.   This kind of reception ensures that the quilt will remain a moving message for years and generations of viewers to come.

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